Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To come back to--

One thought led to another and then another,

Wanting them here as I continue on my journey,

To come back to.

Years ago, one of my favorite books, Teaching with your Mouth Shut, by Finkel,

Not forgotten, influential--
Finkel 's overarching theme in his text Teaching with your Mouth Shut stems from John Dewey's belief that "no thought, no idea, can possibly be conveyed as an idea from one person to another". Finkel explores, through both theory and praxis, possible methods for moving from the realm of "telling" students to "teaching" students. Early in his text, Finkel defines good teaching as "creating... those circumstances that lead to significant learning in others" --source
Recently, at Education Innovation a post, Teaching in the White Spaces--

Resonating, really--
"Leaving out the right ideas, concepts, information in our lessons engages the student’s imagination."
And he quoted this from Lao Tzu:
"Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote

“Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub,
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel,
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room,
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there,
Usefulness from what is not there."
And then today, from The Freire Project Blogs--

An Indian fable --

That spoke to me--

A wish Cocoon

Along a dusty road in India there sat a beggar who sold cocoons. A young boy watched him day after day, and the beggar finally beckoned to him.

"Do you know what beauty lies within this chrysalis? I will give you one so you might see for yourself. But you must be careful not to handle the cocoon until the butterfly comes out."

The boy was enchanted with the gift and hurried home to await the butterfly. He laid the cocoon on the floor and became aware of a curious thing. The butterfly was beating its fragile wings against the hard wall of the chrysalis until it appeared it would surely perish, before it could break the unyielding prison. Wanting only to help, the boy swiftly pried the cocoon open.

Out flopped a wet, brown, ugly thing which quickly died. When the beggar discovered what had happened, he explained to the boy "In order for the butterfly wings to grow strong enough to support him, it is necessary that he beat them against the walls of his cocoon. Only by this struggle can his wings become beautiful and durable. When you denied him that struggle, you took away from him his only chance of survival."

Don't we need to spend more time listening? providing time for learning? designing opportunities for our students to struggle, and to grow and to become? I think so!

Photo Credit

Sunday, June 20, 2010

21 days-

ECMP455-- Spring ECMP 455 Class at the University of Regina

13 weeks reduced to 3--

21 days to develop an understanding of these concepts (Learning is social and connected, Learning is personal and self-directed, Learning is shared and transparent, Learning is rich in content and diversity)--

Dean Shareski shared his plan--

His students, joining him, explored vast new landscapes in an exciting, roller coaster, journey into deep learning—

And because their learning was social, connected, shared, transparent, personal and self-directed, they have compiled powerful personal PD plans with wonderful resources, they have experienced some serious “aha” moments, and they have revealed some personal stories that will affect not only the look and feel of their future classrooms but their “learning” lives forever—

Just 3 of many for example—

Learn to Unlearn
So this was unexpected
Cyber bullying

Their blogs are linked here

To the accomplished and caring educators they are becoming, to the power of a learning environment that is social, connected, shared, transparent, personal and self-directed, and to Dean for its creation— a standing ovation--

That we all can learn in and design this type of environment for all our students-- what possibilities might arise and abound—in 21 days--

Photo Credit

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Help Wanted: Moving conversations from testing to learning

Passion against testing and for learning--

Synergy electrifying a digital meeting space--

Expertise abounding--

Connecting with likeminded teachers--

Collaborating for our students--

Collective Action in the works to move the conversation from testing to learning—

One gathering of many planned—

To engage all stakeholders moving the conversation around education from testing to learning—

When teacher leaders, Yong Zhao, Doug Christensen and Monty Neill gather together in one room (this one sponsored by PLP) to dialogue as they did last night in TLO’s first virtual Teach In around education and learning, a remarkable electricity fills the air and ideas grounded in principles, values and vision encircle and embrace the gathering. (You can access the archive of the Elluminate gathering at this link.) Too rare an occurrence -- one to be treasured.

Under the fine leadership of Anthony Cody and Nancy Flanagan, teachers, teacher leaders, the members of the Facebook group Teachers’ Letters to Obama, are ready to move out of the “echo chamber” and engage all stakeholders as they seek to enable a huge shift --from discussions of testing to ones of learning- The time is now, as Anthony Cody says to use our “outside voices”.

My deep belief is that we can make a difference; through collaboration and collective action, we can influence change in policy. We have to, for our students.


1. By joining the Facebook group, participating in the discussions there, and attending their upcoming gatherings.

2. By following Nancy’s and Anthony’s blogs

3. By learning more about alternatives to the current toxic testing policies and collecting evidence that supports the negative impact of this testing culture.

Monty Neill suggested these websites had useful information:


Are these specific documents at the Fair Test site of value?

How Standardized Testing Damages Education

Seven ways to work for NCLB reform

Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA) recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

These sites on the alternate model that Doug Christensen described in the session-- The STARS model that had been implemented in Nebraska share a unique perspective that really resonates with me:

How Nebraska Leaves No Child Behind, 2007


Douglas Christensen Assessment Maverick


Doug Christensen on Classroom-Based Assessment


4. By committing to help move the conversation from testing to learning through writing letters to editors, to legislators and/or meeting with legislators. Zhao, Christensen and Neill all stressed the need to educate and influence legislators and the public and offered suggestions—

· Be for something; offer stories of youngsters learning—

· Learn a little about them before you write or meet and always mention something good they’ve done—

· Make a request-- for example, ask if we might return to the 1994 law

· Have evidence to back it up your request that illustrate the power of learning

· Leave them some materials if you are meeting in a group with them, not more than a 2 pager

Imagine the possibilities when hundreds and thousands of teachers raise their voices for learning and for their students—

Photo Credit